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Agreement on Alternatives to Diversity at Debates

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Updated August 24

Obama, Romney Pledge Separate Univision Events

Balta Asks Unity, NABJ to Submit Debate Questions

Obama, Romney Pledge Separate Univision Events

Univision CEO Randy Falco said Jorge Ramos, left, and  Maria Elena Salinas

President Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney have agreed to participate in separate "Meet the Candidate" events with Univision, the Spanish-language network announced on Thursday.

Their agreement is a follow-up to the protests voiced by Univision, the journalist of color associations and civil rights groups over the failure to include journalists of color as moderators of the presidential and vice presidential debates.

Meanwhile, Hugo Balta, president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, said he met in Washington Thursday with Michael McCurry, co-chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates and White House press secretary in the Bill Clinton administration from 1995 to 1998.

"The meeting was positive and productive...there isn't an opportunity to add a moderator, but there is a possibility to shape the questioning," Balta told NAHJ members on Facebook.

Balta added on Friday, "I have reached out to the UNITY alliance and NABJ," referring to the National Association of Black Journalists, "requesting that each group submit a finite number of questions (to me) in the next two weeks. The presidents of each organization will meet via phone to discuss the questions presented in order to come up with a final list which will be submitted to Mr. McCurry." [See next item.]

He was joined in the meeting by Anna Lopez Buck, NAHJ's interim executive director.

Univision said the candidates would address the concerns of Hispanics in both Spanish and English.

". . . These two events, hosted in partnership with Facebook, will take place leading up to Election Day, with President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney addressing millions of Hispanics expected to cast their vote in November," an announcement said.

"Moderated by Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas, the award-winning anchors of Univision's evening newscast 'Noticiero Univision,' these events will take place in front of a live audience. The conversation will focus on education and the future of the Hispanic community.

"Additionally, in order to generate a meaningful discussion about issues facing the Latino community and its future, Univision will engage audiences via Facebook in advance of these events. This conversation will take place on the Univision Noticias Facebook Page (http://www.facebook.com/univisionnoticias). Facebook's election hub, the U.S. Politics on Facebook Page (http://www.facebook.com/uspolitics), will also highlight the upcoming events.

"Both candidates have confirmed their participation. Details of the two events with President Obama and Governor Romney will be announced in the upcoming weeks."

Univision and NAHJ have been joined by the National Association of Black Journalists, NAHJ's colleagues in the Unity Journalists coalition, various commentators, the NAACP and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, an African American think tank, in decrying the lack of debate participants of color.

BET and TV One, which target African Americans, said they would not follow Univision in seeking an appearance by the presidential candidates.

"Because TV One is a general entertainment network without a news division, a forum with presidential candidates is not a part of our 2012 election and convention coverage," TV One spokeswoman Monica Neal told Journal-isms by email on Thursday.  "Our efforts this election cycle [involve] our partnership with NBC News. . . "

". . . we have been in a variety of discussions, but do not currently have that in the plan, however we will be announcing our overall coverage plans next week," Jeanine Liburd, a spokeswoman for BET, said by email.

Balta Asks Unity, NABJ to Submit Debate Questions

Hugo Balta, president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, said Friday that he had asked the leaders of the Unity Journalists alliance and the National Association of Black Journalists to submit questions to be used by moderators of the presidential debates.

Michael McCurry, left, and Hugo Balta In a letter to NAHJ members, Balta said, "The presidents of each organization will meet via phone to discuss the questions presented in order to come up with a final list which will be submitted" to Michael McCurry, co-chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates, with whom Balta met on Thursday.

"McCurry welcomed the opportunity and promised to submit the questions, acknowledging that it would be very difficult (for the moderators) not to take advantage of such an offer," Balta wrote.

Here is the text of Balta's letter to members:

"After more than a week of insisting, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) finally accepted NAHJ's offer to meet and discuss their choice of moderators in the presidential debates.

"On Thursday, NAHJ interim Executive Director Anna Lopez and I met with Mike McCurry, Co-Chair of the CPD (former spokesman for President Bill Clinton) at his office in Washington, DC. We were told that Janet Brown, the commission's executive director was not available.

"The meeting was positive and productive.

"After the customary hellos and pleased to meet yous, McCurry was complimentary on the argument outlined in NAHJ's letter (http://nahj.org/2012/08/15/nahj-calls-for-a-latino-voice-in-the-presiden...). He recognized the impact of the booming Latino population on the nation and their importance in the outcome of the presidential election. I asked what we've been wanting to know since they announced the four moderators (CNN's Candy Crowley and ABC's Martha Raddatz, PBS's Jim Lehrer, CBS's Bob Schieffer): will it be possible to add a Latino moderator or moderator of color? His answer was quick and [straightforward], 'no.'

"McCurry's swift answer was not defensive or a contradiction of his earlier support. In fact he spent a considerable time explaining how the CPD's committee wrestled with the challenges of choosing four moderators from the dozens of candidates. Several times he hinted at a Latino candidate who almost made it to the final roster, but was not chosen because of the new debate format (one moderator). According to McCurry, the candidate (presumably Latino) would have been better in what he called a 'pilot, co-pilot' scenario where two moderators ask questions.

"I shared with Mr. McCurry my concern that while each of the moderators' experience and talent is unquestionable, it is certain that they cannot adequately represent the Latino community in their questioning. I challenged Brown's response to our letter: 'The four journalists chosen to moderate the 2012 debates see their assignment as representing all Americans in their choosing topics and questions.' (http://nahj.org/2012/08/22/commission-on-presidential-debates-responds-to-nahj/)

"In my argument, I used myself as an example, stating that while I have an affinity for African American culture and women's issues — I could never represent them successfully because I will never be an African American nor a woman and therefore not share in their experiences (as they do). It would be irresponsible for me to believe that I could be their voice.

"With that in mind, I asked if it would be possible (understanding that the moderators are under no obligation to agree) for NAHJ along with the UNITY alliance: Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), Native American Journalists Association (NAJA), National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) and the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) to present a list of questions pertinent to their respective communities. I argued that it would be more meaningful for the moderators to use their position, as a conduit in asking questions given by the diverse journalism associations that have the pulse of their communities....essentially fulfilling their (moderators) duty as journalists by providing a voice to the voiceless.

"McCurry welcomed the opportunity and promised to submit the questions, acknowledging that it would be very difficult (for the moderators) not to take advantage of such an offer.

"I have reached out to the UNITY alliance and NABJ, requesting that each group submit a finite number of questions (to me) in the next two weeks. The presidents of each organization will meet via phone to discuss the questions presented in order to come up with a final list which will be submitted to Mr. McCurry.

"In looking at how NAHJ can assist the CPD in its process of choosing candidates assigned to moderate debates, McCurry had these two suggestions: 1) continue to push media companies to recruit and promote Latino journalists to prominent positions, so that the pool is larger than the handful that currently exists. 2) assist in developing the bench of future presidential debate moderators by suggesting journalists to moderate other debates ([Congress, Senate,] governor).

"The meeting was encouraging.

"Now it's on us.

"Let's make sure we start working right now in order to ensure we are not in the same situation four years from now."

Romney Gets No Black Votes in Poll

August 22, 2012

NBC-Wall Street Journal Survey Gives Obama 94%

Media Companies Favor Obama With Their Cash

High Negatives for Medicare Vouchers, Ryan, Biden

E.R. Shipp Named Morgan State Journo-in-Residence

"Journal-isms": Sexy, But Limited Crossover Appeal?

NAHJ Urges Courant to Dump Google Translate

Writer Attacked in Ecuador, Raised Free-Speech Issue

Ethiopian Prime Minister Fostered Culture of Secrecy

Philly Columnist Rallies Readers Over Voter ID

Short Takes

Mitt Romney's most publicized encounter with African Americans came in April in

NBC-Wall Street Journal Survey Gives Obama 94%

"A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Tuesday shows President Barack Obama holding a four point lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney," Ned Resnikoff reported for NBC News' "Lean Forward" blog. "But among African Americans, the poll shows an even stronger lead for Obama, as First Read reports:

" 'Looking inside the numbers, Obama continues to lead Romney among key parts of his political base, including African Americans (94 percent to 0 percent), Latinos (by a 2-to-1 margin), voters under 35-years-old (52 percent to 41 percent) and women (51 percent to 41 percent).'

"That's right: according to this poll, Romney has zero percent support among African Americans.

" 'The numbers came from a statistically significant sample of more than 100 African-American voters out of 1,000 total voters in the poll,' NBC News senior political editor Mark Murray told Lean Forward. 'Given the sample size of these African-American respondents, the margin of error is well within the 95 percent-5 percent split with which Obama won this group in 2008.'

"In other words, none of the roughly 110 black respondents to this poll said they would support Romney. The poll should not be taken to mean that Romney has no African American supporters at all. However, at the very most, he has far fewer than Obama."

Media Companies Favor Obama With Their Cash

"Wall Street may lean Republican this presidential election cycle, but the New York media world is staunchly Democratic," Amy Chozick reported Wednesday for the New York Times.

"All the major media companies, driven largely by their Hollywood film and television businesses, have made larger contributions to President Obama than to his rival, former Gov. Mitt Romney, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit, nonpartisan Washington-based research group that publishes the Open Secrets Web site.

"The center's numbers represent donations by a company's PAC and any employees who listed that company as their employer.

"Even companies whose news outlets are often perceived as having a conservative bias have given significantly more money to Mr. Obama. Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, for example, has contributed $58,825 to Mr. Obama's campaign, compared with $2,750 to Mr. Romney. The conglomerate, which owns Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post and the 20th Century Fox studios, gave roughly the same amount to Mr. Romney's Republican primary competitors Rick Perry and Ron Paul as it did to Mr. Romney.

"But the choice of Representative Paul Ryan, the conservative congressman from Wisconsin, to be Mr. Romney's running mate, might help win News Corporation dollars. . . ."

High Negatives for Medicare Vouchers, Ryan, Biden

"Paul Ryan's selection to the Republican ticket has put the issue of Medicare squarely on the 2012 campaign agenda," the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reported Tuesday. "And the latest Pew Research Center survey continues to find the public is aware of a proposal to gradually shift Medicare to a system of vouchers and is, on balance, more opposed than supportive of the idea.

". . . The public offers a relatively negative assessment of Mitt Romney's selection of Ryan as his running mate. Nearly half (46%) say Ryan is an only fair or poor choice, while 28% say he is an excellent or good choice. By comparison, reactions to John Kerry's selection of John Edwards in 2004, and Bill Clinton's selection of Al Gore in 1992, were more positive than negative.

"But public assessments of Ryan's Democratic counterpart are even more negative. Just 27% say Joe Biden has done an excellent or good job as vice president, while 56% say his job performance has been only fair or poor. . . "

E.R. Shipp Named Morgan State Journo-in-Residence

E.R. Shipp, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1996 as a columnist at the Daily News in New York, started work Tuesday as journalist-in-residence for the new Department of Communication Studies  being organized at Morgan State University by DeWayne Wickham, the USA Today columnist who is department chair.

"I will teach in the morning," Shipp told Journal-isms by telephone. "Two entry-level writing classes and one feature writing class. I hope they will be as engaged as I am at 8 o'clock."

E.R. ShippShipp is a former reporter at the New York Times who has been a faculty member at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, former ombudsman at the Washington Post, and from 2005 to 2009, Lawrence Stessin Distinguished Professor in Journalism at Hofstra University.

Since then, she has contributed to a book on the history of her native Rockdale County, Ga., written for theRoot.com, worked on a family history and been "active in my community" of Center Moriches in Long Island, N.Y.

Wickham is to "provide the leadership to enable Morgan to grow and build a world-class communication and journalism program and lead the University toward the realization of a School of Global Communications and Journalism," according to a June 28 announcement from Morgan State President David Wilson.

Among his hires are veteran journalists Jackie Jones and Jerry Bembry.

"The challenge is to work with DeWayne Wickham, the department chair, to create a [strong] journalism program that will be part of a communications school," Shipp said, adding that she will use her connections in journalism to invite others to meet her students. Wickham said Shipp will have the rank of associate professor.

"Journal-isms": Sexy, But Limited Crossover Appeal?

"Earlier this spring, veteran journalist Richard Prince marked the 40th anniversary of . . . landmark efforts against discriminatory practices at the Washington Post with a reunion of the so-called 'Metro Seven,' " Richard Horgan, co-editor of FishbowlLA, wrote Wednesday in a Q-and-A with this columnist for MediaBistro's "So What Do You Do . . ." series.

Along the way, Horgan asked what kind of traffic "Journal-isms" receives.

Richard Prince"It mostly depends on what other reporters and organizations link to it," came the reply, "and, when we talk about the lack of diversity in the media in general, it's also true about the lack of diversity in media columns. In other words, 'Journal-isms' does not get linked to by a lot of the predominantly white news sites. We're not on their radar screen and we're not important to them."

By coincidence, Columbia Journalism Review Tuesday published "Required skimming: media news aggregators not named Romenesko (Only because everyone knows about him already)" by Michael Meyer.

You guessed it. None were listed that primarily address diversity issues.

Meanwhile, FishbowlDC closed the online voting for editor Betsy Rothstein's "Sexiest Media Type in Washington" contest. This columnist came in third, behind two good-looking women, but ahead of the four other men. Does that make him the sexiest male media type in Washington? Stay tuned.

The results were: "CNN's blonde bombshell Brianna Keilar," 30.91 percent; "Washingtonian's classically beautiful Kate Bennett," 20.68 percent; "Maynard Institute's Richard Prince. The Fresh Prince of FishbowlDC," 20 percent; "NBC4 Chief Meteorologist Doug Kammerer. He'll water your petunias anytime," 10.45 percent; "The Atlantic's Justin Smith. International man of mystery," 9.09 percent; "AP's dreamy Steve Peoples," 7.27 percent.

NAHJ Urges Courant to Dump Google Translate

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists told the Hartford Courant this week that readers deserve more than the Google Translate service to render its English-language stories in Spanish for its Spanish-language section, the association said on Wednesday.

"While we applaud the awareness of Latinos in Connecticut — where roughly 13 percent of the population identifies as Hispanic/Latino" NAHJ's officers wrote, ". . . NAHJ would encourage the Courant to look to its sister papers, including El Sentinel at the Orlando Sentinel and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and Hoy at the Chicago Tribune, to devise a better plan."

Sergio Quintana

A more well-rounded strategy to reach Spanish-speaking readers "could include partnering with Spanish-language media outlets already doing business [in] Connecticut to disseminate Courant content, hiring more Latinos and Spanish-speakers in the newsroom, or creating a Courant product targeting Latinos, and that contains news translated by fluent Spanish-speakers.

"We can help you create that plan, and put you in touch with Latino journalists, educators and media outlets. Our resources and expertise are yours if you want them."

Meanwhile, Sergio Quintana won a runoff election for NAHJ secretary, defeating Chris Ramirez, the association announced on Tuesday. Quintana, a freelance broadcast journalist in San Francisco, received 17 votes in the runoff period, or 55 percent of the vote, while Ramirez, a reporter at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, received 14, or 45 percent.

The election finish Aug. 3 found Quintana and Ramirez each with 124 votes. The board decided to extend the voting period for two weeks. Ramirez, a member of the "HalftimeInNAHJ" slate headed by Russell Contreras, the defeated candidate for NAHJ president, remains a board member representing Region 3, the mid-Atlantic area.

At the first meeting of the new NAHJ board, Ramirez voted to keep the NAHJ's policy barring tweeting from NAHJ board meetings, a policy the new board defeated 6-5, while Quintana said he would have voted to drop it.

Writer Attacked in Ecuador, Raised Free-Speech Issue

"Orlando Gómez Léon, a Colombian journalist based in the Ecuadorean capital of Quito, was attacked and threatened last week after Semana, a Colombian weekly for which he is a correspondent, ran a story contrasting free speech problems in Ecuador with its decision to offer asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange," Reporters Without Borders reported on Wednesday.

". . . Gómez received a call at this home from an unidentified person who said: 'Watch out, you son of a bitch, stop saying bad things about Ecuador.' "

". . . Semana editor Mauricio Sáenz told Reporters Without Borders . . . that the reactions to the article confirmed that, whenever the Ecuadorean government was criticized in a press report, it did everything possible to suppress it."

"While we welcome Ecuador's decision to give asylum to Assange, we must not lose sight of the high degree of internal tension between the Ecuadorean authorities and part of the country’s press," Reporters Without Borders said.

"The Ecuadorean government wants to portray itself to the international community as a defender of free speech, but attacks on press freedom and the media in general continue to be frequent in Ecuador. Raids, closures, exorbitant damages awards and prosecutions of opposition journalists are all part of the very difficult day-to-day reality for the media in Ecuador."

Ethiopian Prime Minister Fostered Culture of Secrecy

"Ethiopians awakened this morning to state media reports that Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, 57, the country's leader for 21 years, had died late Monday in an overseas hospital of an undisclosed disease," Mohamed Keita reported Tuesday for the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Eskinder Nega, an imprisoned Ethiopian journalist and blogger, was honored in Ma"Within seconds, Ethiopians spread the news on social media; within minutes, international news media were issuing bulletins. Finally, after weeks of government silence and obfuscation over Meles' health, there was clarity for Ethiopians anxious for word about their leader. Still, it was left to unnamed sources to fill in even the basic details. Meles died in a Brussels hospital of liver cancer, these sources told international news organizations, and he had been ill for many months.

"Death of yet another African leader highlights secrecy & lack of transparency when it comes to ailing leaders," CNN's Faith Karimi noted on Twitter, where the hashtag #MelesZenawi was trending globally.

". . . The government's handling of Meles' health situation reflects its culture of secrecy . . . along with its heavy-handed tactics to control news and information. Yet for all its efforts, the government could not control the public's hunger for information. The official secrecy merely fueled rampant public speculation and fears about the country's future.

"The government's tactics are a product of its long-time leader. The paradox of Meles is that he was a formidable politician who nonetheless feared criticism in the Ethiopian press."

Philly Columnist Rallies Readers Over Voter ID

"I'm sure you remember my meltdown in this space last week after a Commonwealth Court judge upheld the state's ill-timed, ill-conceived and downright devious show-me-your-papers voter ID law last week, a political and poisonous disenfranchisement ploy if I ever saw one," Annette John-Hall, columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, wrote Tuesday.

"Believe me, I'm still disgusted. But while a team of lawyers headed by the ACLU battles it out in state Supreme Court, we have to turn our outrage into action.

"Now.

"It's not just about new voters and the obstacles facing them. Hundreds ofAnnette John-Hall thousands of voters who cast a ballot in previous elections could find themselves unable to vote now that they have to prove who they are all over again.

"After so many of you flooded my inbox asking what you can do, I got an answer at the headquarters of the Voter ID Coalition, which represents about 150 nonpartisan civic organizations.

". . . Before we go any further, write down this number: 215-848-1283. Make that call if you want to volunteer for any number of tasks the coalition needs."

Short Takes

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Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site BugMeNot.com provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

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